Tide has turned in Oracle’s favor in America’s Cup 

click to enlarge Oracle Team USA
  • AP Photo/George Nikitin
  • Oracle Team USA, right, leads Emirates Team New Zealand to the leeward marks during the 15th race of the America's Cup sailing event on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, in San Francisco. Oracle Team USA won both the 14th and 15th races on Sunday.
Oracle Team USA extended its winning streak to four with a pair of victories in the America’s Cup Final on Sunday, leaving Emirates Team New Zealand stuck on match point since last week and bringing the series to 8-5.

Oracle controlled both races of the day from start to finish, getting prime position out of the starting gate and pulling ahead through the first marker each time. Jimmy Spithill’s squad won the first race by 23 seconds, and the second by 37 seconds.

New Zealand made its best comeback attempt when it came within 100 meters on the final downwind leg of the first race, but Oracle’s position in the lead forced Kiwi skipper Dean Barker to take his team on a course that cost the team much of its speed, and the lead ballooned back up over 300 meters.

This marks the first time Oracle has won two races in one day, offering a big confidence boost to Spithill and his crew. He credited the surge not only to changes made to the boat, but in bringing five-time Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainsle onboard as tactician as well.

“The communication loop in the back with Tom [Slingsby] and Ben, they’ve been improving I think every day,” he said. “There’s no question that was one of the hardest days out there and clearly those guys nailed it. The changes to the boat are a big deal. They’re a big deal in terms of actual performance that you can see physically, but mentally for the crew, because now the crew can see that the boat is up to it.”

The prevailing belief in the America’s Cup is that the faster boat always wins. After Oracle lost six of the first seven matches in the series, due mainly to losing too much ground on the upwind leg, the tables have now been completely turned for the defending champions.

Over the past few days, the major advantage for Oracle and skipper Jimmy Spithill has been getting better starts out of the gate and around the first mark. Time after time, Oracle has jockeyed its way into the prime position heading into the first mark, forcing New Zealand to give way and allow Oracle to pull out to an early lead.

Earlier in the series, that hadn’t mattered, as New Zealand was so much faster on the upwind leg that any deficit was nothing to worry about. After Oracle made modifications to its boat, that is no longer the case.

Barker said his shore team has made plenty of changes to its own boat over the past few weeks, and expressed confidence in the team’s decision making.

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